Australian farm co-op CBH trials biofuel-bunkered cargo ship

The co-op hopes it can cut emissions from the journey by 15%, as it works to make its supply chain more sustainable

Australian grain co-op CBH Group has partnered with leading dry bulk operator Oldendorff Carriers to conduct the first biofuel trial on a grain vessel exporting from Australia.

CBH Marketing and Trading is shipping 30,000 tonnes of sustainably certified malting barley aboard the Edwine Oldendorff, which is sailing from Albany Grain Terminal to Vietnam.

The vessel will be bunkered with a biofuel blend for the trial, supplied by integrated energy company BP. The biofuel blend is estimated to produce about 15% less greenhouse gas emissions for this journey than conventional fossil fuels, says CBH.

The co-op’s chief marketing and trading officer Jason Craig said the co-operative is proud of the project, part of its efforts to find ways to reduce its carbon footprint along the supply chain.

“Customers across the world are increasingly seeking to source sustainable products, including sustainable grain,” he added.

“It is our role, as Australia’s leading grain exporter, to take the necessary steps to lower carbon emissions along our supply chain.

“Biofuel is one low-carbon option that could be part of the solution to reducing emissions in the shipping industry.”

The malting barley, which is accredited as sustainable under the International Sustainability and Carbon Certification program, is set for Vietnam’s leading malting company, Intermalt.

Intermalt services a number of brewing customers, the largest being Heineken, which has set a target of a carbon neutral value chain by 2040.

“We need to meet the growing market demand for sustainable or carbon reduced grain by being proactive, practical and adapting,” said Mr Craig. “By doing this, we are making sure we can continue to keep our WA growers competitive.”

The trial will provide information on how the vessel engine responds to biofuel, its speed and efficiency, and measure the emissions it produces.

“We are excited to be working alongside our key global partners to conduct this trial, which will provide valuable information and help pave the way for a more sustainable grain industry,” added Mr Craig.

Ben Harper, managing director at Oldendorff Carriers Melbourne, said: “We are very pleased to be collaborating with industry leader CBH to trial biofuel in our vessel, Edwine Oldendorff. Collaboration is crucial for us all to learn and share information about the best paths in our efforts to decarbonise the supply chain.”

In 2020-21, CBH sold 1.2 million tonnes of sustainably certified grain, and says it reduced Scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions on a per tonne basis by 38 per cent from the previous year.

“Our increased focus on sustainability means our co-op will remain strong for future generations and Western Australian growers are well placed to meet future market expectations,” said Mr Craig.

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